Sunnis have long been accused of performing a ‘bid’ah’ (reprehensible/illegitimate innovation) by organizing and conducting Tarawih in their mosques during the nights of Ramadan (yes, the accusation of bid’ah is quite very rich, coming from Shias who have introduced all sorts of bida’, including places of worships besides mosques i.e. Husseiniyyat and numeours abhorrent and polytheistic prayers such as ‘Prostrating and praying to Fatimah a few hundred times!’ to mention just one!).
Shias must realise that Tarawih is not actually a forbidden bid’ah (innovation) as they have been led to believe. Instead, it is a very useful and beneficial institution that has really served this Ummah well (just observe how common Sunni memorisers of the Qur’an are compared to Shias … or the miserable state of most Shias, at the forefront their scholars when it comes to Tajwid …), and once they understand what this institution does for the Muslims, and the kind of spiritual avenues it opens up for us, they will realise what a blessing they have been missing out on, and hopefully seriously consider taking part in it, or at the very least, they will stop looking down upon those who do make the effort to take part in it.
Before delving into Shia hadiths, we’d like to post just a single (out of many that exist) rock-solid-sahih Sunni hadith that proves that Tarawih is indeed a Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), not a bid’ah of the Commander of the Faithful ‘Omar (may Allah be pleased with him):
One night Allah’s Apostle offered the prayer in the Mosque and the people followed him. The next night he also offered the prayer and too many people gathered. On the third and the fourth nights more people gathered, but Allah’s Apostle did not come out to them. In the morning he said, “I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it (i.e. this prayer) might be enjoined (made obligatory) on you, stopped me from coming to you.” And that happened in the month of Ramadan. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 32, Number 229]
in a different version:
‘The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, went out in the middle of the night and prayed in the mosque, and some men prayed behind him. In the morning, the people began talking about it and then a large number of them gathered and prayed behind him [i.e. that second time]. On the next morning the people again talked about it, and on the third night the mosque was filled with a large number of people. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, came out, and the people prayed behind him. On the fourth night, the mosque was overflowing with people and it couldn’t accommodate them. Then, he came out for the Morning Prayer. After completing the Morning Prayer, he faced the people, pronounced the testimony of faith and said: ((As to what follows: your presence was not hidden from me, rather I feared that you may view it as obligatory)). The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, died and it remained that way.’ [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
These two hadiths alone prove that there is a precedent for Tarawih in congregation as according to the narrations the people prayed with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the masjid in congregation with his knowledge. This means this kind of Qiyam (night prayer) can’t be a bid’ah, because if the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) performs something even once, we can”t call it a bid’ah, because it becomes a Sunnah.
The second point worth reflecting over in the hadith is that even after knowing that people were joining behind him (i.e. the Prophet) in congregation, he still went on to continue this prayer in the mosque for congregation for 3-4 days, and it was only after the crowd became big, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stopped. Why didn’t he stop on the very first day when he noticed the small crowd? This point indicates to the fact, that the reason for stopping this prayer in congregation was NOT not because there is something wrong with this prayer, or something wrong by praying it in congregation, rather the problem was related to its popularity, because if praying the night prayer in congregation was bid’ah and haram, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would not continue for 3-4 days, rather he would inform the people on the very first day that this prayer should not be performed in congregation in the mosque, and this leads us to the third point. The third point to ponder upon is the reason that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave for discontinuing the night prayer in congregation.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) reportedly says, ‘I saw what you were doing and NOTHING but the fear that it (i.e. this prayer) might be enjoined (made obligatory) on you, stopped me from coming to you’. So it is very clear that the only reason that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) discontinued this prayer in congregation was because he feared that this prayer might become obligatory and then the people would not be able to do justice to it. Tarawih is thus proven from Sunni books beyond doubt.
Tarawih in Shia books
Al-Kafi (Furu’) by Al-Kulayni
– علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد بن عيسى بن عبيد، عن يونس، عن أبي العباس البقباق; وعبيد بن زرارة، عن أبي عبد الله (عليه السلام) قال كان رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله) يزيد في صلاته في شهر رمضان إذا صلى العتمة صلى بعدها فيقوم الناس خلفه فيدخل ويدعهم ثم يخرج (١٥٤) أيضا فيجيئون ويقومون خلفه فيدعهم ويدخل مرارا، قال: وقال: لا تصل بعد العتمة في – غير شهر رمضان – الكافي للكليني الجزء الرابع ص154 – 155
Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Ubayd from Yunus from Abu al-‘Abbas al-Baqbaq and ‘Ubayd ibn Zurarah who has said the following:
‘Abu ‘Abdallah, peace be upon him, has said that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, would increase his prayer during the month of Ramadan. After Al-‘Atmah (late evening prayer, he would perform more prayers. People behind would stand up (for prayer), but he would go inside and leave them. Then, after he came out, they would come and stand up behind him (for prayer), but he would leave them and go inside several times’. He (the narrator) has said that the Imam then said: ‘You must not perform prayer after late evening prayer during the times other than the month of Ramadan’. [ِAl-Kafi by Al-Kulayni, vol. 4, p. 154-155, declared SAHIH by Majlisi in his Mir’ah Al-‘Uqul 16/378a]
Tahdhib Al-Ahkam (by Al-Tusi)
علي بن الحسن بن فضال عن اسماعيل بن مهران عن الحسن بن الحسن المروزي عن يونس بن عبدالرحمن عن محمد بن يحيى قال: كنت عند ابي عبدالله عليه السلام فسئل هل يزاد في شهر رمضان في صلاة النوافل؟ فقال: نعم قد كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله يصلي بعد العتمة في مصلاه فيكثر، وكان الناس يجتمعون خلفه ليصلوا بصلاته فاذا كثروا خلفه تركهم ودخل منزله، فاذا تفرق الناس عاد إلى مصلاه فصلى كما كان يصلي، فاذا كثر الناس خلفه تركهم ودخل منزله وكان يصنع ذلك مرارا. تهذيب الاحكام ج3 –
‘Ali ibn Al-Hassan ibn Fadl has narrated from Isma’il ibn Mehran from Al-Hassan ibn Al-Hassan Al-Marwazi from Younus ibn Abdel-Rahman from Muhammad ibn Yahya who has said the following:
‘I was with Abu ‘Abdullah, peace be upon him, when he was asked if one should increase his optional prayer during the month of Ramadan. He said: “Yes, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, would increase his prayer during the month of Ramadan, after Al-‘Atmah (late evening prayer), he would perform more prayers in his mosque. People would gather behind him for prayer, but when their numbers increased, he would go inside his house and leave them. When the people dispersed, he came back to the mosque and prayed as he did before, and when the number of people increased behind him, he left them and entered his house again, he did this several times‘. [Tahdhib Al-Ahkam by Al-Tusi, vol.3]
The above Shia narrations clearly prove – just like in Sunni books – that that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would come to the mosque and when the crowd would increase, he would go to his home, and AGAIN come back to mosque when the crowed had decreased, and unlike Sunni hadiths, these narrations do NOT limit this practice of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to 3-4 days i.e. we have Shia narrations asserting that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) consistently and repeatedly performed his Ramadan night prayer (Qiyam) in the mosque, with a congregation behind him. The narration (in Tahdhib) uses the term ‘miraaran‘, i.e. again and again, to indicate that he didn’t just lead congregational night prayers in Ramadan (i.e. Tarawih) once or twice, but rather many times, time and again …
Shia objection #1
‘But, but … Tarawaya (Tarawih) is the innovation of Omaar, he himself called it (i.e. Tarawih) an excellent bid’ah in your own Sunni books!’ Here the hadith:
It was narrated that ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Abd Al-Qaari’ said: I went out with ‘Omar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) one night in Ramadan to the mosque, and the people were scattered, with one man praying by himself and another with a group of men following his prayer. ‘Omar said: “I think that if I gather them behind one reader, it will be better.” Then he decided to unite them behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b. Then I went out with him on another night, and the people were praying behind their reader. ‘Omar said: “What a good innovation this is. But the prayer that they forget about and sleep is better than the one they are offering.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 1906.]
Let’s say – for the sake of argument – that ‘Omar indeed meant to have introduced an evil bid’ah into the religion of Allah: So what! Muslims are not blind followers of ‘Omar nor are Shias (last time we checked …). Besides, if ‘Omar thinks something is an innovation, since when does that make it an innovation? The reality is that it was not an innovation, because there was a precedent for it during the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), also ‘Omar did not mean what Shias (due to their ignorance of the Arabic language) accuse him of.
In reality there was nothing so “new” and “innovative” about what ‘Omar had done, since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had already led such a congregation before during his lifetime.
If Shias say that they use ‘Omar’s statement as a prove against us, then we say that thier (i.e. Shias) statement is actually proof of their ignorance, specifically regarding the Arabic language and terminologies who have to be understand in context not according to ones whims (ironically in this case here Shias suddenly become literalists …).
Scholars have correctly explained ‘Omar’s words, the Shia argument is not new, just recycled:
With regard to what was said by some of the earlier generations about regarding some innovations as good, that refers to innovation in the linguistic sense, not in the technical shar‘i sense. An example of that is what ‘Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said, when he united the people in praying Qiyam in Ramadan behind a single Imam in the mosque; when he came out and saw the people praying in that manner, he said: What a good innovation this is. And it was narrated from him that he said: If this is an innovation, then what a good innovation. What he meant was that this deed had not been done in this manner before this time, but it had a basis in Islamic teaching that may be referred to, such as the fact that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) used to encourage and urge people to pray Qiyam in Ramadan. At his time, the people used to pray Qiyam in the mosque, in scattered groups and individually, and he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) led his companions in praying Qiyam in Ramadan for several nights. Then he stopped doing that, on the basis that he feared that it might be made obligatory for them, then they would be unable to do it, but there was no fear of that after he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died. [Ibn Rajab in his Jaami‘ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hikam (2/783)]
In support of the above, we find Ibn Kathir said in explanation of the verse (2:117):
والبدعة على قسمين تارة تكون بدعة شرعية كقوله فإن كل محدثة بدعة وكل بدعة ضلالة وتارة تكون بدعة لغوية كقول أمير المؤمنين عمر بن الخطاب عن جمعه إياهم على صلاة التراويح واستمرارهم نعمت البدعة هذهAnd bid’ah is of two types. Sometimes it is a bid’ah shar’iyyah (with its Shariah meaning), such as his saying, ‘For every newly-invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance …’ and sometimes it is a bid’ah lughawiyyah (with its linguistic meaning), such as the saying of Amir Al-Mu’minin ‘Omar bin Al-Khattab regarding his uniting them together for the Tarawih prayer and making them maintain this practice, ‘What an excellent innovation this is …’
This indicates that there is no such thing as “good bid’ah” in the Shariah, and where bid’ah is spoken of in a praiseworthy sense, it is only being spoken of with its linguistic meaning.
It should be clear now that the word ‘bid’ah’ can be used in its linguistic form or its technical scholarly form. An example is the word sahabi (companion), in its linguistic form it simply means a person who accompanies you on a journey or a person who spends a lot of time with you. Whereas in its scholarly technical form it means: ‘Any person who saw the Prophet (peace be upon him), embraced Islam and died upon it.’ A big difference.
Another example is the word hadith (narration/report), in its linguistic form it simply means any story you narrate about anything. Whereas in its scholarly technical form it means: ‘Any words, actions or confirmations by the Prophet (peace be upon him).’
Likewise, the word bid’ah (innovation), in its linguistic form means any change whether good or bad, such as the Qur’an being printed on paper instead of animal skin like in the past. This simply makes accessing it and preserving it more convenient, it does not change the Qur’an’s nature, text or status. Whereas the technical term is referred to as ‘Ihdaath’ or ‘Adding new religious tenets without precedent or subtracting from the religious tenets without excuse.’
When ‘Omar used it he simply meant ‘This is a blessed change’ or ‘A change for the best’ not that he added something to the religion or changed the tradition of night prayers that was previously established by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).
The scholars have explained that what ‘Omar meant by that was the linguistic sense, according to Arabic usage, because he (may Allah be pleased with him) united the people behind a single imam, whereas at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq they used to pray (mostly) in scattered groups. During his time (may Allah be pleased with him), he united them behind a single imam in an ongoing and organised fashion and put lamps in the mosque. This way of doing it – which was to gather in the mosque behind a single imam, with lamps in the mosque – was something that they had not done before, hence it was called an innovation.
Shia objection #2
‘What about Shia narrations that speak of the prohibition of Tarawih?’
Yes, Shia books do include such narrations, but the absolute irony is that those narrations (that speak of the PROHIBITION of Tarawih) are in reality weak according to Shia hadith standards themselves. The only reason they are championed and parroted is due to their ‘Anti-‘Omar’ and ‘Anti-Tarawih’ nature, when scrutinised, they hold no water when compared to the previous Shia narrations we provided that clearly prove that Tarawih has its roots in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) not ‘Omar or anyone else. The most famous Anti-Tarawih narrations Shia propagandists, websites and their scholars (in their bias) love to quote are the following:
Anti-Tarawih hadith #1
The Khutba of Ameerul Mumineen (as) in Al-Kaafi:
Imam Ali (AS): “The rulers before me did many acts that went against the teachings of the Prophet (SAWW), which they intentionally went against, contradicting their covenant to him, changing his Sunnah. And if I used force to drive people away from this (innovation) then people will divide. I swear by Allah I have commanded people to not pray any optional prayers (Taraweeh) in Jama’a other than the obligatory prayers, and I told them that their gatherings in Nawafil (Taraweeh) is a Bid’ah (innovation).” (Al Kaafi by Sheikh al-Kulayni, vol. 8/ p 51)
- The above narration – as mentioned earlier – conflicts with the authentic narration in Al-Kafi that proves that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the first to pray Ramadan in congregation not ‘Omar or any ‘ruler’ before ‘Ali.
- Besides, this alleged sermon of ‘Ali is in the Raudah Al-Kafi (smallest part of Al-Kafi, with the Usul then Furu’ being the largest), there is difference of opinion amongst Shia themselves whether Al-Kulayni even authored Raudah Al-Kafi or not. Some believe some other unknown person compiled it, and as such, they tend to be very suspicious of the narrations in the Raudah Al-Kafi because the identity of the compiler is not confirmed.
- Shias can’t just dismiss the importance of the chain of transmission (many do in their desperation), for the chain of this so called sermon is manifestly weak (da’if), if not an outright fabrication according to Shia hadith standards itself!
- The chain contains numerous problems for Shias, we shall point out one to save us and yourselves time: Ibrahim b. ‘Omar Al-Yamani = Da’if Jiddan”, “extremely weak according to Ibn Al-Ghada’iri, one of the earliest Shia rijal and hadith scholars.
Anti-Tarawih hadith #2
Imam al-Sadiq (as) and al-Baqir (as) were asked about the Nafil (recommended) prayers in congregation on the nights during the month of Ramadan. So they would reply: “Verily when the Messenger of Allah (saw) prayed the final al-`Isha, he would return home, then leave in the final hours of the night to the mosque so he stands and prays. So he left the first night of the month of Ramadan to pray as he prays, so the people made rows behind him, so he (the Prophet) fled from them to his home and left them. This was repeated for three nights. So the Prophet (saw) stood during the third day on the pulpit, praised Allah (SWT) and then said: “Oh People, verily the congregational prayers during the nights of the month of Ramadan is an innovation (bid‟a), and the Duha prayers is an innovation. Therefore do not gather at night during the month of Ramadan for the night prayers. And do not pray the Duha prayers since it is a sin. Verily every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance is on a path to the hellfire.
He then came down (from the pulpit) while saying: “Little of the sunnah is better than much of the innovations.”
Sanad: Muhammad b. `Ali b. al-Husayn by his isnads from Zurara and Muhammad b. Muslim and al-Fudayl who said the above hadith
Source: Wasa’il Al-Shia, Volume 8, Page 45, Hadith #1
- The above narration also conflicts with the authentic narration in Al-Kafi that proves that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the first to pray Ramadan in congregation and he did not rebuke people for doing so (i.e. praying with him).
- Most importantly, the hadith is ‘da’if’ (weak) according to Shia rijal standards (even lenient ones). One of the narrators in the chain of the narration is Muhammad bin Isa bin ‘Ubaid who was declared ‘da’if; (weak) and a Ghaali (exaggerator/extremist) by Al-Tusi in his book of Rijal.
- There are more issues in the chain, such the narrator Muhammad bin Muslim Al-Thaqafi who is also not reliable, because of the presence of Ali bin Ahmed and his father Ahmad bin Abi Abdillah and his grandfather Muhammad bin Khalid all of whom are ‘majhool’ (Unknown, or no clear grading for them). In fact, ‘Ahmad bin Abi Abdillah’ was expelled from the city of Qom by Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Isa (because of his deviant beliefs). So there are people in the chain who are even extremists and weak narrators according to the extreme Twelver Shias themselves!
Anti-Tarawih hadith #3
Abi Abdillah (as) was asked about the prayers at the mosque during the month of Ramadan, he said: When Ameer al-Mu‟mineen (as) went forth to Kufa, he ordered al-Hassan (as) to call to the people: “There are no congregational prayers in the month of Ramadan. So al-Hassan bin Ali (as) called to the people by what Ameer al-Mu‟mineen (as) ordered him, so when the people heard these words they chanted: “Oh Umar! Oh Umar!”. So when al-Hassan bin Ali (as) returned to Ameer al-Mu‟mineen (as), he (Ali) asked: “What is this noise? So (al-Hassan) replied: “Oh Ameer al-Mu‟mineen, the people are chanting: “Oh Umar! Oh Umar!”. Ameer al-Mu‟mineen (as) said: “tell them „pray.‟”
Sanad: `Ali b. al-Hasan b. Faddal from Ahmad b. al-Hasan from `Amr b. Sa`d alMada‟ini from Musaddaq b. Sadaqa from `Ammar who said the above hadith
Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 8, Page 46, Hadith #2
- The Sanad (chain of narration) of this narration is also ‘dai’f’ (weak) because of the presence of Ali bin Hasan bin Faddal who was a Fath’hite (a deviant Shia sects according to Twelvers), and was ‘da’if’ according to Al-Hilli, fact Al-Hilli declared him to be a Kafir and accursed because he and his family were prominent proponents of the Fathite belief, he even wrote a book proving the Imamah of Abdullah bin Ja’far.
- The Matn (text) is a clear-fabrication (besides portraying ‘Ali as a weak authority who bows down to the demand of the people which is – allegedly – in violation to the religion!), not supported by any historical account whatsoever. If ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) vocally opposed Tarawih, how come all the other classical Muslim historians failed to register his opposition in their books, even though they registered his other stances in which he opposed the previous caliphs in their books. For example, ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) differed with the previous Caliphs on the issue of ‘Umra and Hajj Tamattu, and Sunni scholars clearly recorded his opposition to the stance of the Caliphs, even though he was not even a Caliph at that time. The fact is that Sunni scholars, historians and narrators of Hadith never shied away from documenting, recording and registering in their books the points on which ‘Ali opposed the previous Caliphs or differed with them. Rather, they carefully recorded all such noteworthy instances in their books. How come, they assiduously and meticulously record ‘Ali’s stances of opposition against the previous Caliphs when he is simply a regular citizen of the state, but fail to record the attempts he allegedly made to ‘ban’ or ‘oppose’ Tarawih when he became Caliph? Does this make sense?
- In view of this, we say: if ‘Ali had done something as major as placing a ban on Taraweeh or even if he had voiced his opposition to it, how many scholars would be able to suppress that? Even if ten or twenty Sunni scholars suppressed it, another ten or twenty Sunni scholars would end up quoting it, perhaps absentmindedly, and the truth would have emerged, as is always the case.
Anti-Tarawih hadith #4
Abi Abdillah (as) and Abi Ja‟far (as) said: “When Ameer al-Mu‟mineen (as) was in Kufa, the people came to him and said: “Appoint for us an Imam (of prayer) to lead us in Ramadan. So he replied to them: “No” and he forbade them from congregating in it. So when the evening came (the people) would say: “Cry (for) Ramadan, Oh Ramadan” So Haarith al-ahwar came from among people (to Ali) and said: “Oh Ameer al-Mu‟mineen, the people are causing a fuss and dislike your words. He replied: “Leave them to do what they want and let them pray with whom they want” then he said (the following ayah) “And whoever [..] follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.” (4:115)
Sanad: Muhammad b. Idris in the end of as-Sara‟ir transmitting from the book of Abu „l-Qasim Ja`far b. Muhammad b. Qulawayh who said the above hadith
Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia (Aale Bayt), Volume 8, Page 47, Hadith #5
- This hadith is not ‘Musnad’, i.e the Sanad is broken, and it is not consecutively connected to any of the Shia ‘infallibles’.
‘Ali closest supporters (Shia) and their stance towards Tarawih
Ubayy ibn Ka’b
The first Imam to lead Tarawih in the Prophet’s Mosque after ‘Omar combined all the small groups into one large group was Ubayy ibn Ka’b, who was one of the closest and staunchest supporters of the Commander of the Faitfhul, ‘Ali, and one of the best memorisers and reciters of the Qur’an. Surprise Surprise, one of the closest Shias of ‘Ali led the first unified Tarawih congregation after the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in Islamic history and Shias (who have innovated numerous innovated prayers) call it bid’ah!
The question now is: Who was Ubayy ibn Ka’b to Shias? And don’t Shias make takfir on most of the Sahabah?
Indeed, they do, however some Sahabah (especially those who sided with ‘Ali in his battles) are spared from their takfir, amongst them is Ubay about whom ‘Ayatullah’ Al-Khoie says that he (‘Ubay) is amongst the best companions of ‘Ali and a reliable and trustworthy individual:
مستقاة من الكتاب القيم لآية الله العظى الشيخ : المامقاني (ر) وهو كتاب : تنقيح المقال : ، وغيرها من المصادر الكثيرة
– أبي بن كعب بن قيس النجاري ( أبو المنذر ) ، حسن بل ثقة
The first person to lead what Shias believe to be a Sunni ‘bid’ah’ was actually one of the staunchest Shia (‘supporters’) of ‘Ali! Surely ‘Ali must have made an attempt to stop him? If ‘Ali was against Tarawih, then why did he not stop his closest Shia from leading it in the first place? And besides, if Ubayy was such a close and strong Shia (‘supporter’) of the Imam, why did he even agree to lead Tarawih if he knew ‘Ali was against it? Are Shias really going to pull out the Taqiyyah card again? Perhaps, Ubayy being scared of ‘Omar’s whip? Taqiyyah is only permissible for saving ones life. Do Shias seriously expect us to believe that if Ubayy refused to lead, his life would be in danger. Let’s be realistic here, Bilal (out of sadness) refused to give Adhan after the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) demise even though Abu Bakr asked him to continue giving it, but he refused, and no one could harm him or kill him for that. So somehow Bilal had no need for Taqiyyah but Ubayy had?
Asad ibn ‘Amr ibn Abi Yusuf said: I asked Abu Hanifah about Taraweeh and what ‘Omar did. He said: Tarawih is a confirmed Sunnah, and ‘Omar did not base his decision on speculation and he was not introducing bid’ah (an innovation). He did not enjoin it except because of what he knew from the Messenger of Allah ((peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). ‘Omar introduced this and gathered the people behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b and he offered this prayer in congregation, at the time when the Sahaabah – the Muhajireen and Ansaar – were still alive, and no one among them objected to that, rather they helped him and agreed with him, and also enjoined it
Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari
عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ ، قَالَ : صُمْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ رَمَضَانَ ، فَلَمْ يَقُمْ بِنَا شَيْئًا مِنَ الشَّهْرِ حَتَّى بَقِيَ سَبْعٌ ، فَقَامَ بِنَا حَتَّى ذَهَبَ ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ ، فَلَمَّا كَانَتِ السَّادِسَةُ لَمْ يَقُمْ بِنَا ، فَلَمَّا كَانَتِ الْخَامِسَةُ قَامَ بِنَا حَتَّى ذَهَبَ شَطْرُ اللَّيْلِ ، فَقُلْتُ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ، لَوْ نَفَّلْتَنَا قِيَامَ هَذِهِ اللَّيْلَةِ ، قَالَ : فَقَالَ : إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ إِذَا صَلَّى مَعَ الْإِمَامِ حَتَّى يَنْصَرِفَ حُسِبَ لَهُ قِيَامُ لَيْلَةٍ ، قَالَ : فَلَمَّا كَانَتِ الرَّابِعَةُ لَمْ يَقُمْ ، فَلَمَّا كَانَتِ الثَّالِثَةُ جَمَعَ أَهْلَهُ وَنِسَاءَهُ وَالنَّاسَ ، فَقَامَ بِنَا حَتَّى خَشِينَا أَنْ يَفُوتَنَا الْفَلَاحُ ، قَالَ : قُلْتُ : وَمَا الْفَلَاحُ ؟ قَالَ : السُّحُورُ ، ثُمَّ لَمْ يَقُمْ بِقِيَّةَ الشَّهْرِ
Abu Dharr reported: We fasted Ramadan with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and he did not lead us in the night prayers (i.e Qiyam) until there were seven days left of the month, then he led us in night prayers until one-third of the night had passed. Then, when there were six days left, he did not lead us. When there were five days left, he led us in praying the night until half that night had passed. At that point, I requested: ‘O Messenger of Allah, why don’t you lead us for the rest of this night?’ He (peace be upon him) answered me: ‘Worry not, If a man prays with the leader until he leaves, it will be counted as if he spent the whole night in prayer.’ Then, when there were four days left, he did not lead us in the night prayers. When there were three days left he sent for his daughters and women, and gathered the people, and he led us in praying all throughout the night until we feared that we would miss “Al-Falah”. He did not lead for the remainder of that month.’ Dawud (one of the narrators) asked: “What is al-Falah?” I said: “The time of Suhur.” [Sunan Al-Tirmidhi]
There is more authentic material available from Abu Dharr (one of the few Sahabah whom the Shia religion spared of doing takfir on) that proves that the hold the believe that praying Qiyam (night prayer) with an Imam in congregation is the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), something the Shia deem as a bid’ah and haram:
Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays the night prayer with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.” [Classed as sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Tirmidhi]
From this we learn:
A- The Prophet (peace be upon him) did lead them in the long night prayers during Ramadan.
B- He (peace be upon him) led them multiple times during the last third of Ramadan.
C- The reason why he (peace be upon him) dropped it at other times is known as explained earlier i.e. he feared that it might be made obligatory for them, then they would be unable to do it, but there was no fear of that after he (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died
D – The hadith cited proves that there is a precedent for Tarawih in congregation. As you can read, the people prayed with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the masjid in congregation.
E – The foundation of Tarawih was laid down by none other than the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself, the only difference is that in ‘Omar’s (may Allah be pleased with him) time this Sunnah was revived and prayed throughout the month of Ramadan (as it is done to this very day). If this is a bid’ah then printing copies of the Qur’an on glossy paper and other innovations are bid’ah too since this wasn’t done at the time of the Prophet in the exact same manner (however the foundations were laid down hence it doesn’t make it a bid’ah either).
Tarawih prayer under ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib’s caliphate
We have proven that in the most authentic Zaydi Shia book of hadith, ‘Ali himself commanded (!) and instructed how to pray Tarawih, unknown to many ignorant Shias, similar narrations can be found in Sunni books:
قد جاء نحو ذلك عن علي رضي الله عنه والحديث عنه حسن لغيره لكثرة طرقه: قال البيهقي في سننه (2/496..): انا أبو الحسن بن الفضل القطان ببغداد انبأ محمد بن أحمد بن عيسى بن عبدك الرازي ثنا أبو عامر عمرو بن تميم ثنا أحمد بن عبد الله بن يونس ثنا حماد بن شعيب عن عطاء بن السائب عن أبى عبد الرحمن السلمى عن علي رضى الله عنه قال دعا القراء في رمضان فأمر منهم رجلا يصلى بالناس عشرين ركعة, قال: وكان علي رضى الله عنها يوتر بهم”
[…] ‘Ali used to call the Qurra’ (professional reciters of the Qur’an) and appointed one of them to lead the people in prayer (i.e. in Tarawih with 20 rak’ah. The narrator says: “Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, then used to lead the people himself in witr.” [Sunan Al-Bayhaqi, 2/496, hassan/authentic narration due to many chains of narrations]
4606 – أخبرنا أبو الحسين, ثنا موسى بن محمد بن علي بن عبد الله, ثنا أحمد بن عيسى بن ماهان الرازي, ببغداد, ثنا هشام بن عمار, ثنا مروان بن معاوية, عن أبي عبد الله الثقفي, ثنا عرفجة الثقفي قال: كان علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه يأمر الناس بقيام شهر رمضان ويجعل للرجل إماما وللنساء إماما قال عرفجة: فكنت أنا إمام النساء.
[…] on the authority of ‘Urfajah Al-Thaqafi who said: ”Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, used to lead the people in prayer in the month of Ramadan; he appointed for the men an Imam and for the women an Imam, I was the Imam for the women.’ [Sunan Al-Bayhaqi, vol. 2, hadith no. 4606]
Kitab Qiyam Ramadan by ‘Allamah Ahmad ibn ‘Ali Al-Marwazi
“أمرني علي رضي الله عنه فكنت إمام النساء في قيام رمضان”
‘Urfajah Al-Thaqafi said: ”Ali, commanded me to lead the women in Qiyam (night prayer i.e. Tarawih) in Ramadan.’ [Kitab Qiyam Ramadan by ‘Allamah Ahmad ibn ‘Ali Al-Marwazi]
حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ فُضَيْلٍ ، عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ السَّائِبِ ، عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَانِ ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ ، أَنَّهُ قَامَ بِهِمْ فِي رَمَضَانَ.
‘Narrated to us ibn Fudayl, from Ata ibn As-Sa’ib, from Abu Abdal-Rahman (Al-Sulami) from ‘Ali, that he use to stand (Imam) for them in the Ramadan.’ [Narrated with a reliable/hassan chain by Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated it in his Musannaf 7700, also see Kitab Fadha’il Ramadan by ibn Abi Dunya, #43]
Ibn Abu Shayba also narrated:
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ عَيَّاشٍ ، قَالَ : سَأَلْتُُ عَطَاءً هَلْ كَانَ عَلِيٌّ يُصَلِّي بِهِمْ فِي رَمَضَانَ ، قَالَ : كَانَ خِيَارُ أَصْحَابِ عَلِيٍّ زَاذَانُ ، وَأَبُو الْبَخْتَرِيِّ وَغَيْرُهُمْ يَدْعُونَ أَهْلِيهِمْ وَيَؤُمُّونَ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ فِي رَمَضَانَ.
It was reported to us by Abu Bakr ibn Ayash, who said: ‘I asked ‘Ata if ‘Ali used to lead them in prayer in Ramadan (i.e. Tarawih)? He answered: “The best companions of ‘Ali such as Zadhan, Abu Al-Bukhtari and others used to call their families and lead them in prayer in the mosque in Ramadan.” [Ibn Abu Shayba also narrated #7693]
Ibn Abi Dunya narrated it with a slight difference: Abu Bakr ibn Ayash asked ‘Ata: ‘Did Ali lead the people for prayer (i.e. Tarawih) in the month of Ramadan? ‘Ata answered: ” … “By Allah, he did“. [Kitab Fada’il Ramadan”#45]
Ibn Abu Dunya also narrated from Ata ibn as-Saib from his father, that Ali used to lead the people in Ramadan (i.e. Tarawih). [Kitabu Fadhail Ramadan”#46]
حَدَّثَنِي مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْحَارِثِ الْخَرَّازُ ، قَالَ : ثنا سِنَانُ بْنُ حَاتِمٍ ، قثنا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ ، قثنا حُبَابٌ الْقُطَعِيُّ ، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ الْهَمْدَانِيِّ ، قَالَ : خَرَجَ عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ عَلَيْهِ السَّلامُ فِي أَوَّلِ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ وَالْقَنَادِيلُ تُزْهِرُ ، وَكِتَابُ اللَّهِ يُتْلَى فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ ، فَقَالَ : نَوَّرَ اللَّهُ لَكَ يَا عُمَرُ ابْنَ الْخَطَّابِ فِي قَبْرِكَ ، كَمَا نَوَّرْتَ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ بِالْقُرْآنِ
Muhammad ibn Al-Harith Al-Kharraz told me: Sinan bin Hatim told us: Ja’far ibn Sulayman told us: Hubab Al-Quta’i told us: from Abu Ishaq Al-Hamadani, he said: ”Ali ibn Abi Talib went out on the first night of Ramadan while lanterns were glowing and God’s Book was recited in the mosques (during Tarawih). ‘Ali then supplicated: “May Allah fill your grave with light, O ‘Omar bin Al-Khattab as you’ve lit God’s houses with the Qur’an.” [Fada’il-Ramadan li Ibn Abi Al-Dunya]
حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ مَخْلَدٍ قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْعَبَّاسِ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ يُونُسَ السَّرَّاجُ قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ يَعْنِي ابْنَ رَبِيعَةَ قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا خَالِدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْوَاسِطِيُّ , عَنْ حُصَيْنِ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ , عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ السُّلَمِيِّ قَالَ : أَمَّنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ أَبِي طَالِبٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ فِي قِيَامِ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ قَالَ : وَمَرَّ بِبَعْضِ مَسَاجِدِ أَهْلِ الْكُوفَةِ , وَهُمْ يُصَلُّونَ الْقِيَامَ فَقَالَ : نَوَّرَ اللَّهُ قَبْرَكَ يَا ابْنَ الْخَطَّابِ كَمَا نَوَّرْتَ مَسَاجِدَنَا
We were told by Ibn Makhlad: Abu Al-‘Abbas Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Rahman ibn Yunus Al-Sarraj told us: ‘Abdullah bin Muhammad ibn Rabi’ah told us: Khalid ibn ‘Abdullah al-Wasiti told us: from Hussayn ibn ‘Abdul-Rahman, from Abi ‘Abdul-Rahman Al-Sulami who said: ‘We were led in prayer in one of the mosques of Kufah by ‘Ali bin abi Talib during the night prayers of Ramadan; As ‘Ali passed by some of the mosques of the people of Kufah as they performed their night prayers he said: “May Allah fill your grave with light O ‘Omar bin Al-Khattab as you’ve lit our mosques.” [Shari’ah lil-Ajurri]
What Shias don’t know about the diverse Sunni stance on Tarawih
Sunni scholars in general maintain (and it is similarly one view among the Zaydis) that it is recommended to hold congregational Tarawih prayers regularly in Ramadan, with its basis in Prophetic practice. This has played an important role in the public preservation of the Qur’an, as it has been customary to complete its recitation from memory at least once per Ramadan during these congregational Tarawih prayers.
After agreeing on the meritoriousness of a congregation being established for Tarawih, the same scholars nevertheless differed (amongst themselves) as to how much it is stressed for every individual to participate in the congregational Tarawih. According to the dominant view in the Hanafi school, the congregation for Tarawih is Sunnah ‘ala Al-kifayah, i.e. it is enough (i.e. the Sunnah is considered to be fulfilled) if a congregation for Tarawih is established in the community [Ibn ;Abidin, Radd Al-Muhtar], but if a person prays it on his own (at home or elsewhere) he is not considered to be sinful or remiss.
Badruddin al-A’ini said in his commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari called ‘Umdat al-Qari:
Malik, Al-Shafi’, and Rabi’a held to the view that the prayer in the house is better than the prayer with an Imam [i.e. in the mosques]. This is the view of Ibrahim [Al-Nikha’i], Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Al-Alqama and Al-Aswad.
In the chief book of Maliki jurisprudence, the Mudawwana, when Imam Malik was asked about praying during Ramadan, he said:
If one has the strength, it is preferred to me that one prays in his house. Not everyone has the strength to do that.
There has been disagreement, since the early generations, about whether it is better for an individual to join the congregation for tarawih, or to pray on his own. While there were a number of prominent Sahabah and Tabi’in who are reported to have prayed Tarawih in congregation, there were others who did not. In Madinah, `Abdullah ibn ‘Omar, the Sahabi, would pray Tarawih on his own, and would advise/give fatwa similarly (Shias love to quote a harsh statement of him, where he compares people who know Qur’an yet pray the whole night behind an Imam in Tarawih with donkeys. This harsh opinion of Ibn ‘Omar was directed to those who know the Qur’an i.e. according to Ibn ‘Omar it is better for the one who knows the Qur’an to pray the night prayer in Ramadan alone. This narration is not in favour of the Shia, it only proves the freedom the Sahabah and the community had in ‘Omar’s time, to the point that his own son expressed such opinions).
Salim (Ibn ‘Omar’s son) as well as Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr and ‘Urwah ibn Al-Zubayr (two of the Seven Great Jurists of Madinah) similarly would pray Tarawih alone. In fact it is even reported that ‘Omar ibn Al-Khattab himself prefered to pray Tarawih alone at home or later at night (‘But the prayer which they do not perform but sleep at its time, is better than the one they are offering now.’)
In Kufah, Ibrahim Al-Nakha’i, ‘Alqamah and Al-Aswad would each lead their congregations in ‘Isha but then leave and do Tarawih on their own. Ishaq ibn Suwayd relates that there would be a row of people (called Saff Al-Qurra – the Reciters’ Row) praying Tarawih individually in the mosque while the congregation was in progress [See: Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf; Tahawi, Sharh Ma`ani Al-Athar].
The Sunni position, as one can clearly see is very open-minded and moderate, from the early times the Sahabah themselves preferred different methods of praying the night prayer, some in congregation, some alone, however, nobody has ever went to the extremes of the Rafidah (extremist Shias such as the Twelvers) who due to their grudge and hatred for ‘Omar dismiss the practice of Tarawih altogether. A man, who was able to recite Qur’an for himself, asked Al-Hassan Al-Basri whether to pray Tarawih alone or to join the Jama’ah. Al-Hassan told him to choose whichever option is better for him, in terms of being more conducive to awareness and a fearful heart [Narrated by Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi]. This astute reply brings out the fact that for different people, in different circumstances, one or the other option might be better.
We don‟t have a single flawless narration against Tarawih in Shia books. All the narrations against it have loopholes, sometimes in the chain, sometimes in the Matn (text), and often times in both. At the same time, we have rock-solid sahih narrations according to Shia standards that are of the same nature as Sunni narrations i.e. Tarawih was NOT initiated by ‘Omar, rather by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself who did pray it for several days with his Sahabah during the nights of Ramadan, in congregation, he never rebuked them for that, in fact due to this love for his Sahabah and Ummah, he made it clear that he was well aware that people prayed behind him and that the only reason he stopped leading them in Qiyam (which Shia deem haram and a bid’ah as if the Prophet would commit haram and bid’ah for a few days!) was his fear that this prayer might become obligatory.
The crux of the matter is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stated the reason why he did not persist in offering this prayer in congregation, which is that he feared that it might be made obligatory. This reason ceased to be applicable after the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died, because when he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died, the Wahyi (revelation) ceased and there was no longer any worry that it might be made obligatory. Once the reason, which was the fear of it being made obligatory, disappeared with the cessation of the Wahyi, then the fact that it is Sunnah to offer this prayer in congregation resumed.
Later, in the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful ‘Omar, he found people performing Tarawih in small groups (gathered around individuals who had memorised Qur’an), and thought it a good idea to gather them under a single Imam (instead of them praying behind many Imams) just like in the early days of Islam, during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), that means ‘Omar revived a Sunnah he did not invent something which is proven from the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.
The great Maliki jurist Imam Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
This indicates that praying Qiyam in Ramadan is one of the Sunnahs of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and is recommended and encouraged. It was not introduced by ‘Omar ibn Al-Khattab, rather he revived something that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) loved and approved of. Nothing stopped him from doing it regularly except the fear that it might be made obligatory upon his Ummah. He was kind and compassionate towards his Ummah. ‘Omar knew from the Messenger of Allah that the obligatory duties would not be increased or decreased after his death (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), so he revived this practice and enjoined it upon the people. That happened in 14 AH, and ‘Omar has the honour of being the one who revived this Sunnah. [Al-Tamheed, 8/108, 109]
This practice was continued by Caliph ‘Othman [as narrated by Ibn Sa`d, Malik and others] and Caliph ‘Ali [as narrated in the Musnad of Imam Zayd ibn ‘Ali his great-grandson, and by others].
Credits go to Shia Reformer whose article helped a lot in this research.